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International Probate

If you’ve lost a loved one who was a UK national with assets abroad or a foreign national with UK assets, our international probate solicitors can help manage their estate.

When someone dies, their estate must be managed or ‘administered’ in a process known as probate. This includes organising and collecting their property, paying inheritance tax, and passing on inheritance.

International or cross-border probate happens when the deceased lived in one country but owned assets elsewhere. This applies for:

  • Foreign nationals who owned assets in the UK
  • UK nationals who owned assets abroad
  • Ex-pats who still have assets in the UK, e.g. a family home
  • People living in the UK whose official home for tax purposes is abroad (non-domiciled residents or ‘non-doms’).

The different laws and taxes around the world mean that international probate can be much more complicated and time-consuming than normal probate. Successfully administering an international estate requires an in-depth knowledge of estate and tax law in different countries and how these laws interact.

Our international Probate lawyers have the necessary blend of legal and tax expertise you need to navigate the entire process, from getting a Grant of Probate to passing on inheritance.

As a dedicated team in one of the UK’s largest law firms, we handle a great number of complex international estates. This means we’ve optimised our processes so we can help you as quickly, efficiently, and affordably as possible.

We’re experienced with large, complex, high-value estates and can offer expert advice on handling heritage properties, international trusts, and international wealth management structures.

Our services are tailored exactly to your needs – we can advise you on completing probate yourself or take over the entire estate administration process on your behalf. Contact us today to find out more.

Legal team able to speak different languages particularly French and German
Specialists in helping foreign lawyers apply for UK Grant of Probate
Advice and guidance on related issues like tax and trust services
Work with international tax planners, lawyers and courts

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International Probate - More Information
    • What Is Probate? What Is A Grant Of Probate?
    • The word ‘probate’ is often used to refer to the entire process of administering a dead person’s estate. This involves organising their money, assets and possessions and distributing them as the will instructs – after paying any taxes and debts.

      More specifically, a Grant of Probate is a legal document that confirms someone as the executor of an estate. This document gives them the authority to deal with the deceased’s assets.

      If you have been named as someone’s executor in their Will, you need to apply for a Grant of Probate before you can begin administering their estate as per their instructions.

      Read more about Probate and how it works.

    • What Is An Executor?
    • An executor is the person that the deceased has chosen to administer their estate. Someone’s executor is named in their Will.

      The executor has a number of responsibilities towards the deceased’s estate and the people they’ve chosen to leave assets to in their Will (these people are known as beneficiaries). Read more about the duties of an executor.

      If someone has died without a Will, the person that administers their estate is called an administrator and is chosen according to the Intestacy Rules. Read more about how probate works if there is no will.

    • How Does International Probate Work?
    • If you’ve lost a loved one who was a UK national with assets abroad or a foreign national with UK assets, our international probate solicitors can help manage their estate.

      The basic Probate process for an executor is:

      1. Gather the full details of the estate’s assets and debts
      2. Our solicitors will prepare the probate papers based on this information
      3. You receive a Grant of Probate
      4. Complete an inheritance tax return and pay any tax due
      5. Repay any of the deceased’s outstanding debts
      6. Distribute the rest of the estate according to the instructions left in the Will.

      This process can change depending on which country the deceased had connections with (e.g. their ‘tax domicile’) and which countries their assets are in.

      Different countries have different probate and intestacy laws. Conflicts between these laws can complicate probate when an estate has assets in different countries. Inheritance tax laws also differ between countries which can cause extra difficulties.

      Probate will take between six months and two years for most estates. The exact amount of time will depend on the size and complexity of the estate. Disputes between the executor, beneficiaries, tax authorities, and creditors can also cause delays.

      Our solicitors can advise on or help with any stage of the Probate process. We can help if disputes are stopping you from making progress or can even take over your duties as executor entirely.

      Call us today on 0370 1500 100 to find out more.

    • What Is Intestacy?
    • Someone who dies without leaving a Will is known as ‘intestate’ and their estate is in intestacy. Their property is distributed according to the rules of intestacy since there is no Will to determine the deceased’s wishes.

      The rules of intestacy also set out who can administer the estate in place of a named executor. This person is known as an administrator.

      This also applies if someone leaves a Will but it is invalid.

      Read more about intestacy.

    • How Much Do Your Probate Services Cost?
    • We offer a highly personalised service for each of our customers. A straightforward UK estate, whether or not there is a valid will, is usually in the region of 2.5% of the value of the gross assets, with a minimum fee of £2,500 plus VAT. This fee is for dealing with the whole estate administration.

      If you only need us for specific parts of the administration the fee will vary depending on how much work needs to be done. Visit our pricing page to get more detailed information on our prices.

      When you speak to one of our team, we’ll judge how much work is involved based on your requirements and the size of the estate. We’ll give you an estimate for our fees before starting any work and – wherever possible – quote a fixed-fee cost for your peace of mind.

      Contact us online or call us on 0370 1500 100 for more information.

Irwin Mitchell are a very professional, trustworthy and straightforward company to deal with. I would recommend them to anyone."

Frank Clayton, client

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is A Tax Domicile?

Domicile under English law is a complex concept. Your domicile will often be the jurisdiction where you have your closest personal and financial connections.

You can live in one country but have a domicile elsewhere – people who live in the UK but are domiciled abroad are known as non-domiciled residents or ‘non-doms’.

HMRC will treat someone as being domiciled in the UK (for tax purposes only) if they have:

  • Lived in the UK for 15 of the last 20 years
  • Had their permanent home in the UK at any time in the last three years of their life.

Someone’s domicile can impact the tax that they and their estate have to pay.

UK resident non-doms, for example, may not have to pay UK tax on foreign income or capital gains (e.g. from selling a second home abroad). They may have to pay inheritance tax on their UK assets.

When you are administering someone’s estate, you’ll need to find out their domicile to make sure that you pay the correct taxes.

Our lawyers can help and advise with all the issues that tax domicile can present for international estates, whether the deceased was a UK resident non-dom or was UK-domiciled and lived elsewhere.

Call us on 0370 1500 100 to find out more.

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What Counts As A Foreign Asset?

UK and foreign assets are treated differently by HMRC when calculating the UK inheritance tax that an estate must pay. It’s important to record the value of any foreign assets correctly in order to pay the right amount of tax.

Foreign assets might include:

  • Property, such as holiday homes
  • Valuable possessions such cars, art, or jewellery
  • Bank accounts
  • Shares
  • Businesses
  • Investments.

We can help you track down details of all an estate’s foreign assets and get them accurately valued. We can also help you get local authorisation to access the assets so you can pass them on to the deceased’s successors

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